12 Photographers on How They Conceptualize Their Work

What comes first–the idea for a project, or the images themselves?

Over the course of her career, curator and lecturer Sasha Wolf has heard countless young photographers say they often feel adrift in their own practices, wondering if they are doing it the “right” way. She was inspired to seek insight from a wide range of photographers about their approaches to making photographs, and, more important, a sustained body of work. Their responses are compiled in PhotoWork: Forty Photographers on Process and Practice. Below, twelve artists respond to the first question in the interview series:

LightBox | Time

Read the latest stories about LightBox on Time

Here LightBox spotlights some of the best photobooks of the year as chosen by a group of photographers and photography experts from around around the world…. and of course a few from the photo editors of TIME.  From the selection one can see the art of the photobook continues to flourish in all genres from reportage to fine art photography, fashion and everything in between. This year’s books range from luxurious tomes like Catherine Opie and Alec Soth’s collaboration for Rodarte to smaller precious books like Fred Hunning’s Drei. Overall the selection shows that even as masses of information come at us from all our digital devices, people still enjoy a singular vision and the process of sitting down with a good book—especially one that pushes the boundaries of the format. Herewith, the photobooks we loved the most in 2011

l e n s c r a t c h: John Baldessari and Catherine Opie

One of the best magazine articles I've ever read was in Esquire and it was about how to fry an egg. I never cease to think about that humorous and descriptive article when I pull out a small cast iron pan to make breakfast. And that article reminds me how I feel about John Baldessari. His work has resonated with me since I discovered it in art school, and it's his ability to make simple and humorous ideas into something more significant and resonate, that serves him so well.

Different Angles on the Portrait

The photographers Ryan McGinley and Catherine Opie hold a visual conversation through their portraits in two Manhattan galleries.

While putting together the catalog that accompanies his current show at Team Gallery, Ryan McGinley asked another photographer, Catherine Opie, if she would interview him. In some ways it was a strange choice. Ms. Opie, 49, is best known for studio portraits that are as static and deliberate as the 32-year-old Mr. McGinley’s photographs are hyperkinetic. And while both artists explore queer identity, they’re separated by gender, geography and nearly a generation.